A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors include:

Medical Conditions

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma seems to occur more often in people who:

  • Have been infected with Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis
  • Are infected with the HIV , which weakens the immune system

There is some evidence that long term stimulation of the immune system, such as occurs with patients who have immune-mediated diseases like gluten intolerance, may increase the risk of lymphoma slightly.

Medications

Some non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas are associated with the use of immunosuppressive drugs that are used to prevent transplant rejection. These drugs weaken your immune system response.

Advancing Age

The chance of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma increases with age. Among 20 year olds, about four cases occur for every 100,000 people. That increases to 40 cases per 100,000 among 60 year olds and 80 cases per 100,000 among people older than 75.

Gender

Men are more likely than women to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. About 35,450 males will be diagnosed this year with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, compared with 30,670 females.

Chemical and Radiation Exposure

People who work around pesticides, fertilizers, and solvents have a greater chance of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma than people who do not have this exposure. People with significant exposure to radiation, such as survivors of atomic explosions or accidents or those exposed to radon gas, are more likely to develop lymphoma. Therapeutic x-rays do not increase the risk of lymphoma.